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Should We Deal With Extremism’s Roots or Apply Band-aid Solutions?

by John Brian Shannon

Is it better to focus on policing, courtroom dramas and the astronomical incarceration costs for convicted terrorists, or is it better to gain an understanding of deviant belief systems and actively ‘de-programme’ those individuals before they commit horrific terrorist attacks?

Surely, normal people don’t wake up, hop down to the market, and blow it up while they’re there.

But for reasons inexplicable to us, some people have adopted a different narrative than the vast majority of people who live in the UK. And because it’s such a toxic ideology, one that is completely contrary to normative human behavior, it means it can’t be learned overnight.

All of us, every single human on the planet, was born perfect; ‘Never having sinned’ as they used to say.

No one was ever born with a knife in hand ready to kill other humans at the drop of a hat.

No, major life changes happened in their formative or late-formative years causing them to slip far from the perfect state they once embodied.


The Question Is: Should We Spend Our Funds On An Endless Cycle Of Police, Courtroom, and Incarceration Costs, or Should We Spend The Time And Effort Required to Counter Such Deviant Thinking?

Thus far, higher police budgets, higher court costs, and astronomical incarceration costs have ruled the day.

But as we’ve seen it’s done nothing to stop terror attacks. On the contrary, terror attacks are becoming more frequent in the UK and each attack seems to hit a little closer to home.

That’s a subjective view, for certain. But terrorists hitting the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester where most of the crowd was made up of teens enjoying a night out, bookended by terror attacks from knife-wielding attackers in unmarked vans on two of London’s main bridges is getting too close to home.

“If we keep on doing what we’ve been doing, we’re going to keep on getting what we’ve been getting.” — Jackie B. Cooper

Of course, the easy answer is to hire more police and clamp down on citizen rights. And in the short-term that’s the best plan to combat terror attacks in UK cities.

However, it’s a band-aid approach and any experienced police detective or counter-terrorism expert will tell you that higher police budgets and evermore restricted civil rights won’t protect society from determined suicide bombers.

At its worst, it turns into a kind of game where police are hot on the trail of false leads laid down by the terrorists, who are sitting in a pub across the street watching the police as they block access to a nearby mailbox (which they’ve been told might have a bomb in it) and in doing their job the police unknowingly show the terrorists how they go about solving that situation.

This is old-hat for the police, MI5, and the British Army units that worked counter-terrorism during ‘the Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. They know this, but they’re not about to turn down more funding because more funding will allow them to be in more places, and with better equipment.

But the facts are, that’s a losing hand, long-term.

To wit: No matter how much money was spent on counter-terrorism during ‘the Troubles’ there was still plenty of terrorism.

It wasn’t until a political solution was agreed that ‘the Troubles’ dissipated and the people of Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK now live in relative peace and security.

To wit: No matter how many trillions were spent on the Iraq War, the Afghan War, and the Arab Spring countries, and Syria, etc… we have more terrorism in the West than ever.

More money isn’t the answer. More policing, more counter-terrorism officers at MI5, and higher court and incarceration costs, aren’t the answer.

Yes, some increase in those budgets are justifiable to plug gaps. But increased funding for police and security forces alone will never solve the underlying problem of thousands who’ve been co-opted into the extremist lifestyle.


People Who Live in Strong, Vibrant and Inclusive Communities Don’t Turn to Extremist Ideology

It’s only the people who fall through the cracks that become depressed, angry, and finally decide to bring violent change and ‘make a stand’ for others in their community. Those people are tomorrow’s zealots, extremists, and suicide bombers.

It’s a simple process when measured over time: A lack of inclusivity leads to nonconformity, which leads to lost opportunities, which leads to ghetto communities, which leads to extremist leaders arising and attracting adherents, which leads to terror attacks against the people and groups they feel excluded them in earlier years.

Take careful note of where attacks occur. It’s everything. The House of Commons, centres for tourism and luxurious living, the ‘in’ crowd (or one of the ‘in’ crowds) attending a pop music concert. Exactly the kinds of places and events they weren’t welcomed to visit or enjoy during their teen or young adult years.

‘You excluded us, now you’ll pay.’

No matter how it’s wrapped in ideological BS, it’s a very human but uncultured response to how society made them feel. Amped-up 3000x by those who would exploit young people hurt by the society to which they once tried to belong.


Why Did High Immigration Levels in Early America Work So Well, and Not a Terrorist in the Bunch?

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Excerpt of the Emma Lazarus poem at the Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Island, New Jersey, U.S.A.

Everyone in America is an immigrant. Even the native Indian people originally hailed from Asia some 10,000 years ago. The United States, indeed all of North America is populated by immigrants. And until the first Gulf War in 1990, terrorism had never crossed the minds of most Americans unless they travelled abroad.

How is it then that millions of foreigners relocated to America and there was nary a word about terrorism for well over 200 years, when the whole continent of North America was made up of exceptionally diverse immigrant populations?

Just look at the words that are not mentioned in the Emma Lazarus poem greeting millions of immigrants upon their arrival to America — exclusivity, conformity, and a lack of opportunity leading to ghettoization. The very seeds of extremism and terrorism.


Preventing Toxic Ideologies From Gaining a Foothold in Britain’s Youth

The long-term solution to extremists in Western countries is as simple as adding inclusivity and economic opportunity to the mix. (Busy hands don’t do the Devil’s work. Why? Because, well, they’re too busy earning money and spending it just like the other kids)

A virus in the human body is typically a weak force in an otherwise healthy body. But when the body is in a weakened condition even a normal rhinovirus can wreak havoc or death.

The metaphor here rings true for extremist ideologies (typically a weak force) pedaled to UK youths whom are existing in a mentally weakened state due to a permanent lack of opportunities.

As we have seen, it’s a condition that invites disaster.

London Terror Attack – In the Cold Light of Day

by John Brian Shannon | March 23, 2017

Yesterday’s terror attack in London has sharpened the will of Britain to face terrorism in all its forms, and has served to demonstrate the resolve of Britons to soldier-on despite a display of violence clearly designed to rattle citizens.

This is the London that survived The Blitz and returned stronger than ever. If terrorists are trying to cow a population into submission they chose the wrong city. The merchants of terror will soon find that they have expended much effort for little gain.

Terrorists want big headlines, a terrorized populace, and an over-compensating government that takes corrective measures far exceeding the scale of the problem.

Any publicized response to terrorists should be considered ‘overcompensating’ because more people are killed in Western countries by lightning than are killed by terrorists. More Europeans are killed by falling down their stairs at home than have been killed in the entire history of modern terrorism in Europe. And thousands of people are killed every year in car accidents. Yet the governments of Europe haven’t declared war on cars, stairs, nor lightning.

Tragic as yesterday’s events are, giving the perpetrators and backers of such crimes too much airtime only serves to reward and encourage them.


The Rise of Terrorism vs. The Rise of Knowledge and Responsibility

‘Under the radar’ for many, our civilization has entered a new era; A time of changing attitudes, a time for new pathways to better outcomes.

Knowledge has become more broadly available, more engagement occurs between citizens and their governments, more diversity adds to our understanding of the world, and along with the omnipresent globalization factor, all of these work to shape our worldview and the worldview of people in every corner of the world.

We’re now in an era akin to the time when Homo-sapiens superseded the Neanderthals, which was a time of unprecedented change. But our point of change is where the practitioners of ‘Win-Lose’ paradigms will be superseded by the practitioners of ‘Win-Win’ paradigms. (Terrorists and their thinking will become obsolete as ‘Win-Win’ thinking gains more traction)

The games desperadoes play which are designed to horrify and control large populations, are so 20th-century. Terrorists are rapidly becoming caricatures of themselves similar to ‘Achmed the Terrorist‘ of Saturday Night Live fame.

Why? It seems that wanton destruction and spreading fear have become the goals (for some) in the 21st century.

Terrorist groups no longer make demands, nor recite carefully worded manifestos that were years-in-the-making, nor do they bother to rail against the religious beliefs of Westerners, nor against alcohol, bikinis, or any other taboos created by puritanical control freaks.

In their own control-drama world they lost at the ‘Win-Lose’ game, a paradigm that they chose from the outset, because they believed they could ‘Win’ at that game. But they lost.

Now they console themselves by staging terror attacks sans-message to assuage their disappointment — a sad way for any human being to live their life, and let’s not forget the profound sadness they create among the innocent people caught in the crossfire of their destructive acts.


They Didn’t Start Off That Way

It’s a safe bet that every single human was born perfect —  ‘free from sin’ as they used to say.

And in a perfect world every person would mature and fulfill their best destiny.

What failure it must be then that shapes young minds to eventually become killers of innocent people due to an imperfect understanding of religious texts. And then to fall even further by taking innocent human lives out of the sheer disappointment of having lost at the ‘Win-Lose’ paradigm.

Humans can’t fail much worse than that.

And every bit of it is preventable, either by every child receiving an advanced education so as to be able to properly understand the proper context and meanings of religious texts (for example) — or by teaching young minds that the only outcomes worth pursuing are ‘Win-Win outcomes’. Either would be fine. Both would be better.

“If you treat a man as he could and should be, he will become all that he can and should be.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Keep Calm, and Carry On

In the meantime, while the human race continues to stumble unevenly towards Win-Win outcomes, the best way to manage the people who’ve grown up without the benefit of a proper education, without context in their lives, and are largely untaught in the concept of ‘Win-Win’ thinking — is to *not overreact* to their violent attempts to control outcomes.

And in so doing, we remove the incentive for them to practice their ideology.